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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  January 16, 2012 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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>> welcome to our program, tonight we begin with the "new york times" reporter who has written a new book about the obamas called obamas in "the new york times" journalist is jodi kantor. >> i don't see how (bam would be president without michelle obama. the pattern i've always seen in my reporting is that she can-- to other people. and charlie, don't you think we're really going to see that in the 2012 campaign. >> rose: we continue this evening with wade davis, his book is called not silence. the great war, mall ory and the conquest of everests. >> the war became this template of their lives. and it was-- it was in the fiber of their being. and they carry odd i physically to the mountains. >> we conclude this evening
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with todd buchholz's book is called rush y you need and love the rat race. >> this journey that we're all in as noisy tas s as dangerous, as frustrating is a journey that has extended human life. a hundred years ago you wouldn't have seen there is a rat race a hundred years ago it was simpler. half the population lived on the farm, right. there was-- your cell phone wouldn't interrupt you during dinner, you wouldn't get stuck in traffic. but life expectancy, charlie was 48 years of age. 48 years of age in that simpler nonrat race environment. for me, i'll take the rat race and i think we all should because it means we are living into our 80s, 90s and beyond. >>antor, davis and buck holz-- buchholz when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose was provided by the following:
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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kantor is here, the washington correspondent for "the new york times". she is also the author of a new book that has be getting ot of attention, simply called the obamas. it is about the marriage of barack-- barak and michelle obama and pact on the esidency, chronicling their transtoiingts white house t provides with us an inside look at the west wing. i'm pleased to have jodi kantor back at this tae. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: it is good to see you. now i know you what have been doingince those interviews we had back during the campaign. books often are defined in a limited way, as you well know. because they are early sort of discuions about specific things and they miss those larger picture because they haven't-- it becomes a conversation about controversy. tell me what you think this book is about. >> i think it's about three things, charlie. it's about watching these
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two people learn to translate their partnership into a white hoe partnership. a couple of decades ago they just had a normal marriage like the rest of us. and now they have this kind of supermarriage where the back and forth between them really affects the whole country. there's a sense in which we're all married to the obamas now. it's about michelle obama's turn around in the white house. >> rose: evolution or turn around. >> turn around, she had a really rocky aively radio. she was just a stranger in a strange land. as she got there and in my reporting, you know, and there was a real sense of suspense for me in this reporting. because did not know what was going to happen. but step-by-step andind of a two-steps forward, one step back way, she figures out what she wants first ladihood to be. she figures out her relationship with the west wing which is initially very difficult and some of the big blowouts that have already been reported in the paper. and she also figures out,
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yoknow, her husband grows less popular over her time in the white house. and she really becomes-- . >> rose: he comes down, she comes up. >> that was the twist to me, the surprise of this book that barack obama comes into the white house on top of the world and slowly defends to her, after that and michelle obama who enters with very low expectations doesn't even want to move to the white house immediately after inauguration initially. she changes her mind and does it and she ends up really exceeding her expectations. and then the third thing, the book is about, is it's really about barack obama's struggle with politics. i have been covering the obamas for five years can. and the thing i watch with this president again and again is it is such a paradox that he is the top politician in the country and he has such a tortured relationship with politics. >> rose: why is that? >> and we've all-- you know,
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he being a politician was never the original thing he wanted to be. he identified as a writer in his 20s. he only ran for office after dreams of my father was originally dreams from my father was originally a bust. and you know, we see again and again that he has got this rea ambivalence about what he has to do in washington. to me one of theost arresting things i learned is that at the height of the health care debate when he's trying to pass the health care legislation, it's december. he's trying to get it past the senate. he makes a series of very unpopular deals like the nbc one, to try to get it roug and then at a holiday party he sees his old community organizing boss. and he says to him, it's still organizing. so what does it mean that the president of the united states is telling old friends that he's still a community organizer. >> is she a better politician than he is? >> in some senses, a source of mine once said what you have to remember about the
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obamas is that-- . >> rose: he is no clinton and he is no shall no hillary. >> exactly, exactly. and i don't think that is true in all respects, because there are a lot of ways in ich michelle obama is allergic to politics. >> rose: a lot of ways in which hillary clinton is a good politician. >> exactly. but you and i have both seen michellebama walk into a room and light it up the way few people can. you know, something you see a lot from her, something i saw a lot from her in my reporting is that the force of her person salt very strong. and she can use it in different ways. she can use it to really send a message that things are not right. that's what she does after scott brown wins the massachusetts senate seat. she sends a clear message through her husband to the white house thathings are not okay with her. but you also see her use that personality to bolster and motivate everybody. you know, the president's birthday party his 50th birthday party this year happened during probably the worst week of the
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presidency. this is the week that the debt ceiling crisis finally climaxes, a few days later those navy seals die in that helicopter crash, the s&p downgrade happens. and then the middle of all, she throws him a birthday party. and she gets up on a podium in the back of the white house and she says to 150 people, i want to toast this man as president, but also as a father and as a husband. and she admits that she has been hard on him. and she thanks him. >> rose: that she has been hard on him. how was she hard on him, if you uld speculate as to what she mnt. >> well, one of the examples i found was around the time of the scott brown victory. >> rose: she was up set that they didn't see that coming because it endangered their health care. >> that, and one other really key thing, michelle obama has always seen her husband as a transform difficult politician. she, there are times in the past in chicago where she could bare leigh bring
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herself to even call him a politician. she wanted, her attitude was basically if you are going to go into politics, you can't be like everybody else. you have to be bigger, better, more noble. >>ose: and she's also said that losing isn't the worst thing in the life. >> exactly. she is hard to understand because she is a skeptic but she's also an idealist at the same time. and so when he is making these health care deals at the end of 2009, and voters, really changes voters perception of barack obama. we know from the polling in the massachusetts race that they began to see him as an ode politician, you know, the white house aidees said that's just what she could not live with. and so you know, the funny thing is that michelle obama in the end is like a lot of democrats on the outside, right. because she had these lofty expectations for the obama presidency. but the president wasn't always able to meet.
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>> rose: you also suggest that part of this marriage is living in the white house which they and everybody else always says is so confining. >> yeah. >> rose: that living in there, that he's dealing with hard practical decisions every day. and so he goes upstairs for dinner and with the kids and with his wife. and she reminded him consnt how principlesed and moral course and all of those kinds of things. so he's been dealing in th the-- give-and-take of hold particulars-- politics and she is up there saying let's lk about purpose. >> and this is where the contrast with rahm emanuel is important. some of the report og o the book has been wrongly depicted as, you know, michelle obama and rahm emanuel clashing in the hallways of the white house. that is the fictionalized movie version of this story. >> rose: didn't happen? >> according to my reporting, no. they had-- . >> rose: how is this become part of the narrative.
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>> the thing about her relationship with rahm emanuel is that they're really philosophical foils. because the thing you just mentioned about her-- . >> rose: politics and deals. >> right, so she represents this lofty vision of what this presidency can be. she talks about morals and ideals and helping people. and rahm represents more of the brass tack, practical day-to-day realities. these are the political necessities. and we have to deal with them side of things. >> rose: i want to you take a look this is my colleague gayle king, roll tape. >> that's why i don't read these books. >> because it's, you know, it's a game in so many ways that, you know, doesn't really get, you know, i mean who can write about how i feel. who, who, what third person can tell me how i feel? >> uh-huh. >> or anybody, for that matter.
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>> rose: very good point. you can't reach inside and understand her motivation. >> n biographer can. let me tell you a little bit about the reporting technique-- tech naek in this book. >> rose: will you grant me she has a point. you can't tell how she felt. >> but the book doesn't say that the book says-- . >> rose: i know the book doesn't a that she is right though, you can't tell us what she felt. people do that all the time. they say as this person did that, they were motivated by this or they felt this. in the end, we don't know. >> well, the way i put it in the book. >> rose: unless she tells them. >> the way i put it in the book is valerie jarrett says the first lady felt da, da, da or aides who worked for the first lady said that, you know, her concern was da, da, da. so i used the same rule we use at the "new york times". which is that, you kno, if, you know, if mrs. obama's chief of staff is willing to represent the way mrs. obama approached something, then that's a really good credible source, et cetera,
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et cetera. >> rose: so but nobody can tell what she thought. are you saying at no point did i suggest what she s thinking or are you saying i only suggested what she was thinking because somebody told me that that is what she was thinking because she perhaptold them that. >> i will give the latter. i will give an example. there is a dramatic scene in the book that occurs it the night that gabby giffords was shot. and it depicts the obamas sitting at danner as val yee jarrett's house, close friend and eric holder attorney general and his wife are there as well. and it is an emotional scene. because what we learn is that, you know, the obamas have been worried about security for years, right. and this is their worst nightmare that some nut is going to, you know, come and hurt them or their children or you know mrs. obama says to aides during the campaign, when the republican rallies
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get really heated and there are guns at some of them. and she says, you know, don't these people realize that we have children. so this has been a concern of them for years. and here they have watched this happen not t themselves, but to gabbie giffords, one of the president's favorite legislators, and also to an innocent 9-year-old girl who is just a couple months apart in age from sasha, obama. and they are sitting at dinner and they are talking about this. and they are talking about who is going to run for office under these circumstances. and you know, and what does this mean, you know, for our countr so that is in the book. so how did i get that. i reported that with valerie jarrett. we were sitting upstairs in her west wing office. she told me the story of that dinner. itas at her house. she spent several hours eaking with the obamas. i asked her about the obama's response to it. so that is, you know, the kind of reporting that goes into that book. >> rose: but we don't know that that is what mrs. obama
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was talking about when she says nobody knows what i was thinking about. >> well, she said she hasn't read the book. so but anyway, the-- the-- the thing that i found that was so interesting about the reporting, charlie, was how much more aides around and friends can say than the obama. an interview with mrs. obama is kind of rare right now. she doesn't do at many. they are pretty limited. she often does them to support very specific initiatives, you know, something new is happeni with childhood obesity. she will do, you know, a few minutes with a magazine or a tv show to fell that stor and my goal was to get different kinds of stories, stories that really represented the inkrebld transition they were going through. >> rose: all right. let me come back to something you were talking out which is rahm emanuel, nowed mayor of chicago, former chief of staff of the white house. here is what she said in this interview with gayle king about rahm emanuel.
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>> rahm and amy his wife are some of our dearest friends. rahm and i have never had a crossword. he's a funny guy. >> you've never had a crossword with rahm emanuel. >> we've never had a cross wofermentd i mean i don't have conversations with my husband's staff. i don't go to the meetings. i don't have-- our staffs work together really well. so if there is communication that needs to happen, it happens between staff. my chief of staff talks to his chief of staff. so if there were ever an issue, it would go through that channel anyway. i can count the number of times i go over to the west wing, period. >> rose: dow quarrel with any of that? >> no, because pie book never says that shall did --. >> rose: i'm just asking based on what you know. >> no, i think everything she said is accurate and it tracks with what i reported. and, see, i, i would say that it's the indirect nature of some of these conflicts that makes them so interesting. like take the time when rahm
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emanuel is trying to pass the energy bill in the house. this is a tough legislative priority. and it's looking really close. house democrats are getting atacked for voting for this bill. representative allen void, former representative allen void from florida says he's not going to vote for the bill. rahm emanuel really wants the vote. they make an agreement that boyd will vote yes in exchange for michellbama doing an appearance in florida in miami at a charity event. boyd wants her down there. boyd has a black challenger, his district is elsewhere in miami. but it's very good for him politically to van appearance by michelle obama. so rahm makes the bargain and he doesn't consult michelle obama. so the first lady finds out about this from staff, right. cause rahm makes the deal, he talks to his chief of staff, sean sweeney, sean sweeney talks to michelle obama's chief of staff. susan chair has to go to the first lady and says you've
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been committed to do this thing in florida without er being asked or being told about it michelle obama according to her aides was really frustrated. and you know, and this is part of the larger pattern of her feeling that west wing aides weren't giving her enough say in what she was doing, weren't treating her as a partner, weren't giving her the big picture. and so she does something very interesting. midterm elections are still a year away. but she will not commit to campaigning for them. she doesn't refuse by any means, but she sa that she's not ready to commit. and so this i infuriatg to some of the political aides because they can already see that midterms are going to be very, very enough. and she holds back. and then contrast that with the michelle obama we see now who is all in, right, who is going to fight so hard for her husband re-electn. this is his last race. and you know, and she wants
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so badly for him to win. so you know, so what the reporting really shows is the change, the evolution. >> rose: here's what is interesting too. i mean don't want us to lose sight because you call this book the obamas. so we're talking about two people. >> uh-huh. >> rose: and two daughters. but two people, and the relationship because you in a question ask how can this be despite the fact that you very much are married of equals, she has an enormous impressive academic background, princeton and harvard law. he went to the harvard law, president of the law review. and so you ask, how can being a couple in the white house with all the power that the president has, be a marriage of equals. >> that was, you know, i've interviewed them a bunch of times over the years. and that's the best question i er askedhem. my colleague helped me come up wh that question. and you know, we're sitting in the oval office it was
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the fallf 2009. and i just looked at them. and i said how you can have an equal marriage when one person is president. and the first lady goes huh, as if she-- . >> rose: as if. >> well, the impression i got, this is my impression, was that she was glad that somebody asked. >> rose: and then he didn't answert very weland she -- >> well, she let him suffer. she didn't step in and rescue him for a while so he takes about three tries with the question. and finally he gets to the answer, and he says, he says well actually, my staff is more concerned about what michelle thinks than they are about what i think. so it's kind of a joke. everybody's laughing but also it's getting at a really important theme which is she's the setter of standards, right. you know, she is the
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upholder of the original project and how things should be done. not across-the-board, not in the west wing every day but in a very, very private way. so then finally she swoops in and she gives the sort of, like kind of easy obvious answer which is she says well, we can't be ebb wall in our professional lives right now because he is the president. but in our private lives we're equal in everything we do. >> rose: you suggest that she's had to do that more than once, rescue him. >> well, i mean i-- i don't see how barack obama would be president without michelle obama. theatte, i've always seen in my reporti is that she connects him to other people. and charlie, don't you think we're really going to see that in the 2012 campaign? if you look at his, if you look at the country's assessment of his performance through polls, you know, are americans crazy about his handling of the economy.
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no. do they rate him very highly as a good family man with, you know, an appealing family, yeah. >> rose: he has the thing called emotional intelligence, which you obviously know about. who has the highest emotional intelligence. >> you know, i'm thinking of something that a source once told me which is that he id he's watched the obama at white house parties and one of the things he has noticed is that the first lady ofn prompts and guides the president. >> rose: that is what i was asking. >> yeah, you know, d you-- di you think, you know, did-- barack, did you thank such and such person, did you say good-bye touch and suchperson did yoget to such and such person. d you know, i've always found that image so
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striking. because it's almost like is his guide at the party. and it gets to the thing we were talking about before, about the president for all of his political gifts, not quite being natural politician. >> rose: and she is? >> in certain ways. it's complicated because she has-- she has a difficult relationship in some ways with political life as well. >> rose: you talked to h many-- you talked to a hundred staffers. you talked about jarrett, to axelrod, to gibbs, you talked to two of the best friends from chicago, the necessary bits and whitakers. >> uh-huh. >> rose: you talked to a whole range of people, has any one of them said what is reported in this book is not true? have they contradicted anything as far as you know. >> no, no, in fact david axelrod went on tv the other
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day and confirmed that the gibbs blowup scene was right. >> rose: but gibbs has said that toons too. >> gibb as poll gize. >> rose: nobody denied that the scene didn't happen. >> no, i haven't gotten e-mails from anybody of them. >> rose: and even jarrett who was involved. >> its book was fact checked. this book was not a surprise to the white house. you know, when you fact check a ok they in essence have all of the material in advance. >> rose: okay, but tre is this, so what do you mean they had all the material in advance. >> what i mean is whenre you fact checking a book you're saying this is my reporting. if you see a problem, you know, come back tome. >> so they had every opportunity to contradict anything that you said that was the least bit controversial. >> sure. >> rose: and didn't. >> no. and remember, when you are fact checking you are going to individual sources. you're not sending them the book for vetting, for vetting beforehand. and no, and some of the-- you kn, some of the
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most controversial stuff they talked about on the record. i meathere is a scene in this book where rahm emanuel walks into the oval office and they there have been stories aired in the washington press in which rahm has, has become clear that rahm hasn't agreed with the president's position to do health-care refm. >> rose: they want to page a deal for less than they got. >> right. and it was very embarrassing to the president because to have your own chief of staff essentially disagreeing with you in public, that's a tough thing for a president soahm walked into the office and offered the resignation. and the president had a very memorable comeback line. this is before the health-care bill passed. he said your punishment is to stay here and do health-care reform. >> rose: because he offered to resign. >> yeah, exactly so david axelrod and i talked about that on its record and he quoted in e book.
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he's quoted in the times-- . >> rose: so the portrait here is of a very happy marriage among two people who have enormous love for eachother a. and secondly, are very supportive of each other's place. and what you want us to understand is how they have adjusted and adapted to this center of power in america. >> yes. you know, and one of the reasons at marriage is so important early in the presidentee-- presidency which is that when barack obama becomes president nob treats him normally any more. >> rose: he stands up when he walks in the room. >> there is a funny little thing that i discovered which s you know, i'm a "new york times" reporter. i never expectedto find myself report on brad pitt or calling his office. but i heard a story at the white house about the time that brad pitt came to talk to the predent about low
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cost housing in new orleans for katrina victims. and the white house people were really surprised because brad pitt who was friendly and chatty in the hallway, he gets into the oval office and you know,e seemed, he was really silent. you know, people, the people in the meeting just couldn't quite figure out what was going on. so i called h office and the answer we got back was that he was kind of, you know, he was awe struck, basically. and so think of being in that situation where even one of the most famous successful actors in the world doesn't really act normal around you. and yet michelle obama really is a grounding influence. you know, even something as simp els alike there was a stevie wonder concert at the white house. and the president had to make, the president was making remarks at the beginning. and she looks at the podium which has the presidential seal and she says we're at a stevie wonder concert y do we need the little podium
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with the presidential sealment can't you just like stand up there with a microphone like everybody else. >> rose: finally this. what question would you like most to have answered to about tho bomb-- obamas. >> that's such a great question, charlie. i think thatthe question like if i were speaking to a historian like you know a hundred years from now and i was saying come on g get the thing th i, you know that is beyond the boundaries of realtime reporting, i guess the thing i would want to know is sometimes when michelle obama is vocal about things she disapprove os of in the white house, is she only speaking for herself or is she in some way channeling him. and it is actually not my question. it's the question of white house aidees. because they noticed a pattern. when michelle obama for example was up set about an
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immigration speech that didn't go well he had to stay up all night writing it himself. you know aides said to me afterwards, you know, we understand the first lady, you know, is, you know, is really frustrated by that. but what we don't know is whether it's really the president who is frustrated. and she's the one who is communicating it because she is the more vocal one and seymour intro verted. >> rose: the book is called the obamas jodi kantor, a pleasure to have you here. >> thank you so. >> rose: wade davis sheer. he is currently an explorer in residence at the national geographic society. also an author and award-wiing anthropologist. in a new book he chronicles the accounts of 26 men engaged in britain's first three expeditions to mount everest during the early 1920s. george will writes in recreating their astonishing adventureade davis has gin us an elegant meditation on the courage to cay on. the book is called into the
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silence, the great war, mall ory and the conqut of everest. i'm pleased to have wade davis on this program. welcome. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: good to see you. good to see you. >> rose: you are getting a lot of attention, and george and others and the late christopher hitch ens commentedded on this. because of its connection between the war and what happened to men after the war. >> exactly. you know, the fundamental story of mall ory is that the british set out to climb what they called the third poll. they had lost the race to the north and south poll and everest kind of loomed over the horizon. and famously on the third expedition on the final attempt, june 8th, 1924 george mall ory age 37 the most illustrious climber in britten, young prot gee just 22 were seen by noel dell cresting the north sea ridge going strong for the summit when the mist rolled in and enveloped their mystery. and the question was did they get to the top or not. i wasn't interested in that
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question. i wanted to know who these men were who walked up that mountain. i wasn't suggesting that they were cavalier about death but i knew from their age and class and background that all of them, the majority, probably h gone through the agony of the western front. and they would have seen so much of death that death had no mysteryor them. it had nothing more to teach them save that of their own. and so for that entire generation my original idea was that life mattered less than the moments of being a lived. so when i set out in this 12 year project was to try t find the best that-- really that i could where each of the 26 men had been every single day of the four yrs and four months of the western, on the western front. >> rose: and what defined them? was it as you say a moment was better than a lifetime if that moment was exhilarating and unforgetable? was it the absence of fear. >> well, it was not an absence of fear as much as that they were prepared to take risks that might have
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been unimaginable before the war. they had seen so much of death. we forget what that war implied. the war changed everything. cremation was unknown before the war, after the war it beme the preferred form of dealing with death because so many had lived for four years and four months with the rotten-- of the front. plastic surgery was born from the war and the need to repair the shell scarred face of young boys who for the rest of their live was live behind masks and attend these special holiday camps where they could remove the mask and feel the touch of the wi on their gargoyl features women spoke of the war in the metaphor of dance. nancy cooper famously said by the end of 1916 every boy i had ever dance with was dead. sarah britain simy said there was no one left to dance with. so the war becamehis template of their lives. and it was in the fiber of their beingment and they carried it physically to the mountains. so of the 26 men on those
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three exhi businesses six missed the war, too young, too old, one was a diplomat, one a school master, one set out the war, but 20 saw the worst of the fighting. jack hazard who summitted e north pole in 1924 did so with open bleeding wounds from the-- beneath the tonic of his climbing gear. howard somerville for example mall ory's closest friend in 1922 and 1924 was a surgeon before the front. the date of the song he was told to expect perhaps a thousand casualties that week. he walked out with one other doctor, found himself surrounded by six acres of dying boys factor they said like cord wood. he never came back from everest and became a medical missionary and devoted the rest of his life to saving the living that he might sweep away memories of the dead. >> wow. tell me about mall ory. because wasn't i maory who said in response to a question why dow climb, he said because it's there. >> well, you know, it is a
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funny story, charlie because he said that in new york on his lecture tour in 1923. and as one of his comrades said, he probably said it to get d of a boring pursuer, when he was desperately in need of a good drink at a speak easy. but the fascinati thing is that even ifhe remark was flippant, in se sense it perfectly disil-- distilled this idea of pure effort. and that really was in the sense of spirit that carried these men up the mountain. and of course they never spoke about the war but it was never forgotten. i will share just o example. one of the inkrebld discoveries i was able to make in the course of this, in 1921 which was really the coolest of t exhi businesses that is when they had to find the mountain, walk off the map simply to come to the flank of a mountain that no european had approached at close quarters, according to all historians there was only one journal kept on that apprch march. people speak of mall ory's journals, he wrote letters but didn't keep a journal. and the journal that has
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been around for a long time is a thing that was published in the early 1960s. but i found the unsun hero of that exhi business was actually a canadian by the name of oliver wheeler-- by the survey of india with the task of mapping the inter-- for the mountain it would be he who would spend more time hire on the mountain a loan on the mountain, exposed to the wrath of the mountain than any other man, he was hee not george money tune-- mall ory whfound the door to the mounta, the key to the north pole. now i found his son living five doors from the house i was bo in vancouver. i went to see john wheerl. he pulled off the shelf two treasures, two fat journals written by his dad as he marched across everest in 1921. now on that approach march arthur kellis, filliole gist, 56 yeared old o too old for everest literally died and was buried in the fortress on the tibetan platteau. the day of his burial
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wheeler's journal entry reads simply this well, they buried the old boy in the morning. thought it would be the afternoon, terribly sorry to have missed it but i do hate funerals. wait a minute, how do you miss the internment of o of the six guys you are walking-- had to be an explanation an i knew was with the western front. he was a soldier with the indian army in the canadians in the north and indians in the south. really manned the allied line after the elimination of the british exhi businessary force by november 1914. and by that point the topography of armageddon had come into place. the trenches reached the coastline and both sides were beginning to sap each other. and the germans had put two trenches, they discovered, from 30 feets of their front line and wheeler was given the command as the royal engineer to go over the top, bury those saps and do so in a way that would disswaid-- dissuade the germans fr ever doing again. he goes over the top november 1914, all hell breaks loose, and ty discover the saps by chance
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are full of germans about to attack them. the results is a internal melee of hand-to-hand combat. eventually the indians pushed the germans back but not before the trench is lined three bodies deep, chrels to chest of boys of both sides flailing about in the death throw as wheeler recalled like trout in my krail and he had to bury them aive will. so when he says five years later in everest i do hate funerals, you begin to see the exowe of this horrific engagement that this defined their lives. >> rose: you started writing this before they discovered the bodies. >> you for example the genesis of this really was i was traveling in the fateful spring of 1996. i was traveling 4,000 miles across tibet from western china to laos and on to kathmandu and we happened to past everest when the debacle happed that john crack har wrote about in his book into thin air. d the next fall i was back
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on the east face of everest in the gamma valley with my close friend daniel taylor who is the grandson of medical missionaries in tibet and his father happened to be a good friend of howard somerville, now his closest friend on e mountain. and we got caught in unusual snow conditions and thought we might get stuck there for the winter, actually. and dannel in his way began to speak of these englishman in tweeds who read shakespeare to each other at 23,000 feet and i became completely enamoured so i had from the very start this sense of the war. maybe because i'm canadian, because my grandfather was on the front. and i sent a note to my agent and to k notch and it resulted in a generous contract and three months later the body of mall ory is found by my friend conrad anchor. and there were ten books by fall and i went to knopff to my wonderful editor and said look, gave his mey back because i've got-- and he wonderfulfully said we didn't give you money for a book on mall ory.
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we want a book from you on mall ory. i said it will take a decade and i was wrong t took 12 years. it was a gift t force immediate to take this story to levels of breath and depth that perhaps i might not have if i didn't have that challenge. >> rose: was there not someone that tried to duplicate the mall ory exhe had business. >> well, the original, the first effort to find mallory's body was 1986 led by david bashear's terrible snow conditions. nand 1999 they did find the body. then afterwards the most important thing is that con rad anchor, probably our greatest living climber, he then replicated at approach march up the northeast ridge to ascertain whether or not he thought mallory could have made it on that fateful da >> and what de decide. >> his conclusion as reported in his initial book was no. >> did not make it. >> well, with one enticing possibility. you see, the real impediment was the cliff face of the second step. with huge exposures on both
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sides in the base here and to the-- glacier. but it was possible that the snow conditions they encountered in 1924 would have, had they resulted in the deposition snow on the northeast ridge as it did down below it's possible that a cone of snow formed that essentially would have created an incline that would have allowed them simply to walk up that impediment, had that happened, nothing would have kept mallory from getting to the top because that mountain had become the mountain -- >> is that what you would like to believe or that is what you believe? >> i would, i suppose, like to believe. honestly, i don'tare. >> i kw you said that. >> part of the thing for me is that mallory is sort of -- >> you want to know or don't want to know, it doesn't matter. >> it doesn't-- it sounds really perhaps disingenuous but i, it doesn't really, you know, i mean for example it is a question to find sandy irvin's body and i know from the family members that they really really don't want that to happen. they want to remember sandy in his vitale at this time of his youth as opposed to
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perhaps a photograph of him as a schriff eled cadaver on the mountain. i think what these men aceved was so remarkable. and also i tried very hard in this book to show that all 26 of these me from as compelling as george ll ory as individuals. >> how did thatdentify mallory. >> well, they had-- he literally t was funny when they first found the body he was such an iconic figure that they assumed the body had to be sandy irvin because you couldn't possibly find george mallory. and there was actuallyon his sweater was identified george mlory. >> and then they said well he must have lent the shirt to irving and he writes oh no, and of course george mall ory looked like an elegant mash nell this iconic image that you have seen so off then his death throws. but you know that's not all the way most kornlss look on everest. >> rose: how do most look. >> they look like egyptian mummies, schriff eled, des kated and gruesome. >>ose: why is that more
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people are killed coming down than going up. >> i think that's true of mountaineering in general. but also it is jt a much more, your adrenaline is collapsed. you're exhausted. you know, it's just much more difficult climbing down. and the possibility of slipping. mall ory himself a climber of stunning grace and power had come close to dying on everest three times already before he finally met his end. >> rose: and how long do people who go to the top stay. >> minutes. minus no one-- . rose: because of the sence of oxygen. >> not just the absence of oxygen. >> rose: bause they take oxygen. >> it is just that the-- the exhaustion is so intense that all one can think of is getting down and staying alive. >> rose: i saw a series of quotes it that you like or come from, which is this notion that you should always be pushing the frontiers of what you don't know. >> yeah. >> rose: i mean that is what
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it means to be alive. to be alive is to know fear. to be alive is to experience its unknown. >> and also people feel that creativity is the-- leads to actions but action is the mother of creativity. you have to-- . >> rose: to do make you be creative. >> i mean i think the, you know, what stands out i think in this book and in this story is really a couple things. the first time it tells the story of these climb from the titan experience so i spent months in monastaes. and also it shows a kind of man that perhaps we'll never see again. i mean these men were men who in a wonderful way were not prepared to yield their feelings to alysis. these were not men who wantedo litter the world with tmselves. these men who had a kind of substance and grit that is almost beyond managing. >>nd mallo was the most extraordinary. >> no, i would actually say, you know, i started off
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loving mallory. and then he's very petulant. and he's a bit of snob. and i famously hated canadians. i don't know how you hate a canadian. i'm a canadian, not today do. >> rose: i don't know of any canadians i hate. >> but no, i think my favorite figures were some of the true explorers that you have never heard about which is part of what makes the book exciting for people. >> rose: let me just make sure i understand this oliver wheeler, he knew th the-- what made the combination of mall ory and wheel soar good. >> that's a great point. these were ridge walkers in the 19 -- so even to have a chance to climb everest they had to find a ridge that would lead tie ridge that would lead to the summit. mall ory made a bee line tore the rome book glacier and saw what he called the saddle of his desires which was the north coal. quo see from this side of the west that he was going to climb up. the mission was how to you get to the eastern side that became their mission in a sense in 1921. mallory, in fact, twice walked by the mouth of what we now know is the
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east-- glacier and that was the route to the mountain. but because wheeler had this assignment to mant inner-- of the mountain he explored everywhere with great diligence and later became sury general of india, knighted in world war ii. and he is the one who found the way to get up to the base, the eastern side of the north coal. that was his big breakthrough. the fascinating thing is when finally it came to climb it, who was the one man mall ory insisted on taking with him, of all them, oliver wheeler. and they both climbed higher than any human beings had ever been, etion the summit of the north coal when they were met with a wind unlike anything that had ever existed on earth they said it was like they said being in france under artillery fire, the only way they survived was to slow down their breathing as they had in france and just breathe between the concusons of the ell fire. breathe between the howling wind, you know. and wheel their night nearly died of frost bite.
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and mallory who had somewhat sustained him stayed up all night to save his life rubbing his feet with whale oil. >> rose: these stories of like the membranesf your -- on the second to last attempt, in 1924, teddy norton a great climber got to about 28,600 feets when he suddenly began to get dizzy because he had taken his goggles off soe is suffering from snow blindness. ho war somerville had to lead him across the yellow band and suddenly he couldn't breathe and norton was a little bit ahead. and he ended up hitting himself, coughing up the entire frozen lining of his throat and he just kept walking. >> rose: unbelievable. >> into the silence, the great war, mall ory and the conquest of everest by wade davis. todd buchholz is here, an economist, teacher investor and author and argues we should embrace stress and
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enjoy-- and cutthroat coetition, why you need and love the rat race. i am pleased to have him here at the table for the first time. welcome. >> good to be with u. >> rose: how did you come to this thesis. >> you know, i made a mistake. this is not the book i intended to write. >> rose: you intended to write about the stresses of the rat race. >> i intended to write a book that was called tail hunters, how americans are losing their souls and chasing success. and i would talk about how we're goading our children to kick too many soccer goals and too many people are getting plastic surgery, everyone wants to be at the tail end, the best looking, wealthiest and so on. and then i did a lot of research into neuroscience and history of economics. and i realized whether we get to the tail or not doesn't matter. what's important is being involved. what's important is the puuit. that'shat gives us the spark of life. >> rose: so therefore the rat race is, a
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accomplishment is a satisfaction of itself. >> that's right, that's right. look, we could go back to simpler times. >> rose: or the journey matters. >> the journey tters. anthis journey that we're all in as noisy as it is, a dangerous, as frustrating is a journey that has extended human life. a hundred years ago you wouldn't have said there is a rat race a hundred years ago. it wascismer. half the population lived on the farm, right. your cell phone wouldn't interrupt you during dinne you wouldn't get stuck in traffic. but life expectancy, charlie, was 48 years of age. 48 years of age in that simpler nonrat race environment. for me i will take the rat race and i think we all should because it means we are living into our 80s, 90s and beyond. >> you cite a time at eye meeting during the bush administration which you weren't invited. what was the significance? >> well, the significance was here i got this job at the white house. how exciting. had big office with a
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fireplace. jack valenti one of the most famous lobbyists in washington was becoming a meeting to meet with little old me. i was in my 20s at the time. so hi this great glamorous sounding job. but i showedp on a mond morning. and i found out that there was a meeting over the weekend and i hadn't been invited. well, suddenly it didn't matter -- >> this is the jack valenti meeting. >> no, it wasn't the jack valei eting. but there was a meeting at the white house among staff. they didn't invite me it was after my first week at the white house. and i realized the import of my work and of anybody's work, it's not a matter of the money it is not the prestige. we all do it for that atta boy that pat on the back that says you're a member. you're part of our team. and so the concept that a lot of economists and psychologists have that we're in this rat race just to get money. just to acquire more money. i actually don't think that applies to most people. most of us are in it for self-respect. >> part of what you are talking about su want to be relevant. >> that's right. >> you want to be part of
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the conversation. you want what you doo have consequences. what you do to have consequences can be a lot of things. it can be teaching, making a difference in somebody's life or you can be part of some great political idea that has been triumphant or you can write something. but the idea is to matter. >> well, that's right. look you and i in our careers have encountered senior executives, c.e.o.s, former krooss, c.o.s emeritus, they still have a corner office but no one reports to them this renot part of the conversati any more. and those people tend to debt depressed. so we do want to matter. >> and so is that the definition of happiness, something like that? >> well, defining happiness is difficult because we can talk about momentary plsures. and we can talk about meaningfulness and so on. i think happiness is more than just a momentary pleasure. just the charge that a drug addict might get from
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cocaine. i think there is a deeper feeling. >> but there is also the other side of this. which is i'm sure been pointed out to you many times. the pursuit of some false god also can be a internal life. and a life in ich the end result not only is not what you thought it was but is a very empty victory. >> well, that's right. but it's give for us to judge otr people. and that's not just a cliche although it is, but it's more than that. mother teresa for instance devoted her life to helping people. but if you read her diaries, at the end of her life she thought is this all there is. and thought you know i really didn't feel that godley presence. counterpose that to the vienes cambridge philosopher who was a miserle tortured again quus but on his deathbed he said it's been a wonderful life. rses but i didn't know t didn't enjoy it while he was
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alive. >> he didn't seem to know it until-- of course he made a lot of graduate students in philosophyiserable over thiers but that is a different issue. >> what your advice, what do you want people to come out understanding. >> a, not to feel guilty that they want to to work in the morning. not to feel as if they need to be meditating a great deal more, not to feel guilty that we live in a society that does put some value on material success because it'saterial success that has moved life expectancy from 48 do 80 years of age it ishe scientists and pharmaceutical labs developing those medicines. competition is important. it's part of our nature. and we shouldn't deny our nature. we should embrace it. >> but are you also hoping, also suggesting that in a sense there is also this thing called balance in life too. i mean all the things about being relevant all the thing about success, all the thing about being part of the
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conversation is one thing. the other thing is also as they say smelling the roses. do you have anyplace for smelling the roses. >> yes, i think people should take vacations. but there are plenty of commentators. i would say the majority of behavioral economists and psychologists think we should make the workplace more like a vacation zone. and i really don't think that that is a promising route to take. i think -- why not. if you go t to silicon valley where they ardoing remarkable things, i mean they have built an environment that is conducive to both production as well a satisfaction. all kinds of-- the way they have constructed massages and places to relax and all, they have created a fe form out there and inn many of these companies, especially the new high-tech companies that have provided a way for these people to feel, that they live in an environment that is
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satisfying as well as the satisfaction from doing things. >> right, i'm not against balance. but the people who are privileged enough to be hired by google are driven people. so when they're not being massaged they're working darn hard. >> rose: and they very much wanted to be there. >> exactly. one thing we have learned is that retiring too soon is detrimental to your mentality health. >> why is that i know that is true. >> is a fascinating study that i discussion, researches met with 60 somethings in europe and across north america and gave them simple test. they named ten common household items, could be i glass, pencil, a chair, and then asked them to repeat back those items. in countries where people retire early such as flanges and austria, those 60 somethings are less capable of performing simple tasks than in countries where people work longer.
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so the french believe that they will retire early, they will do crossword puzzles, at sidewalk cafes but they are so adeled they can no longer find those cafes. >> the book is called rush, whyou need and love the rat race, todd buchholz thank you.
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